Tag: supernatural

James: Witch Hunter

K. S. Masden’s Witch Hunter series has been on my TBR list for a while so I was very much looking forward to delving into this book. And, it didn’t disappoint!

Descent

James: Witch Hunter is a prequel story to the Witch Hunter series, which can be read before or after the main series. Right away I warmed to James, the main character, who we see on his first day at Oxford University. He is a very down-to-earth, likable guy. I really enjoyed watching James, the Yorkshire lad, mingle with the rather more affluent and, often uptight, Southerners. There was plenty of conflict and comedy value here, and it really brought out James’ easy-going and fun-loving nature.

Depth

The real story gets started when James starts spying on his haughty, aristocratic roommate, Hunter. There is great conflict between these two characters. James finds himself swept up into Hunter’s world of witch-hunting and the two guys who seemed to be from two completely different worlds, (lol, they were, i.e. the one with witches and the one without), find themselves forming an unexpected friendship. Alongside this, there is the fancy backdrop of Hunter’s family, with lots of ancient witch-hunting heritage, as well as a secret witch-hunting council to delve into…and, of course, witches! What’s not to like!

Ascent

I really enjoyed James and Hunter’s escapades in witch-hunting. I think the only thing I would have liked to see more of were the witches. Although there were a few fights with them throughout the novel, I found the final showdown a little short. But, I guess that kept me wanting more, and I will definitely be reading the series to get both my witch-hunter…and witchy fix.

The Elementals – Book Review

This has been on my TBR list for ages. I now have the whole series to work through…not a bad thing! Would definitely recommend this book and have put it in my YA book giveaway that I’m running this month!  

 

 

 

Descent

MC, Nicole doesn’t know she’s a witch! The story is a gentle descent into the magical world. However, it was the typical setting of a high school, where the story begins and plays out – so a star off here for me.  In her new class, her teacher uses magic and Nicole discovers she is a witch. (The reason for her ignorance is explained later when her family history is explored.) A quiet, approachable girl, Kate takes Nicole under her wing, promising to catch her up on the witchcraft stuff.

The unavailable hot guy, Blake is thrown into the mix early on. And the blending of witchcraft and Greek mythology starts. “Did you know that we – meaning everyone in our homeroom – are descended from Greek gods?”

We see Nicole develop her witchcraft, with descriptions of using energy, visualised as colour.

There’s a malevolent undercurrent in the use of energy with stories about how Danielle (Blake’s girlfriend) has used energy to hurt people. Blake too, hints at there being another side to their powers.“…once a witch takes someone else’s energy – from a human or another witch – their body stops producing energy of its own. They become leeches…until they’ve taken it all.”

.“…once a witch takes someone else’s energy – from a human or another witch – their body stops producing energy of its own. They become leeches…until they’ve taken it all.”

Depth

After the intro into this world, the outlines of its dangers, the real story starts when the witches do meditation one night when a comet is due to be visible. Although the rest of there class is there, it is only Nicole’s group (Blake, Danielle, Kate and Chris) that feels different afterwards. Gradually, they come to realise that they can control one of the four elements, earth, air, fire and water. The fifth, being aether. Darius, their teacher and one of the Elders of Witches, gives them a prophecy that he reckons pertains to them, about the five elements. About midway through, they are attacked by a “two-headed scorpion-tailed dog monster”, a Chimera of sorts, and there is a sense of real danger. I enjoyed their first battle in the playground here, with fireballs.

Ascent

When they reach the end of their quest to solve the prophecy, the object they find waiting for them, is being guarded by another mythological creature, a harpy type woman, half bird, half woman. The reasons for them being led here and what is at stake escalates quickly. The exciting battle scene is well-written and paced, with plenty at stake for our MC. And…even better, there is a nice twist at the end, another secret that Nicole is forced to bear alone. This very much made me want to read on, and I’m looking forward to reading volume two.

Smoke: Book Review

I got a lovely hardback copy of Smoke by Dan Vyleta  for my birthday 🙂 Something a little different too: YA Fantasy, but set in an alternate Edwardian England. It details a world where sin shows up as soot on skin. I hear you, the old adage: “there’s no smoke, without fire”, except in this world there is. Or more the sins and evils that burn within us are excreted through the pores as smoke and cover everyone and everything in the world with soot.

I found the concept really interesting with lots of links to Christianity and the concept of evil, as well as the consideration of one’s emotions and desires – how much is expressed or hidden of the individual.

Vyleta opens the novel with a quote from Dickens that inspired the story. Rightly so, the language and style feels very Dickensian with the squalid descriptions of London and the constant sense that the characters are going to be consumed by the smoking city. Thomas and Livia, two of the MCs when they come to London, are described thus:

“A cold drizzle is falling, taunting them with the kind of proximity they resorted to during the night, shoulder to shoulder, thigh to thigh. They ignore it and sit yards apart. Even so he is conscious of her Smoke; feels it reach across the gap and tug at his very bones. It is as though he were built to drink her sin. London is a place where people touch. Before, he had not understood the implications of this simple truth.”

I found the story itself a little slow to get off the ground and even when it did it lacked the  momentum of most YA reads these days. That is no bad thing  in my opinion. In a world where everyone’s looking for the next fix, this book makes you sit back and ruminate. It is more about the slowly built tension and unease between and within the characters that draws you. Mostly, I read on for the  interesting concepts behind the story. Don’t expect a fast-paced read, but certainly, a thought provoking one, that lingers like a cloud of billowing smoke.

Image from: http://londonbeep.com/nicknames-of-london-city

 

Book Review: White is For Witching

 

Oooooo….a birthday book from one of my lovely sisters and what a treat. Been meaning to try out a Helen Oyeyemi after reading some good reviews and I wasn’t disappointed. Devoured this in two sittings.

Set in a large house in Dover, the two main narrators are twins, Eliot and Miranda Silver, who are in their late teens. The prologue opens with a series of fractured narratives – where we learn the girl, Miranda is missing.

The characters are all painted vividly throughout this book and with each passing page, you want to lap up more. I found myself fascinated by each of the characters, where ordinary details usually passed over were lingered over by Oyeyemi. For instance, the father, Luc, who isn’t a major character in the book is still crystal clear in the reader’s mind. His introduction was:

“He wooed his wife with peach tarts he’d learnt from his pastry father. The peaches fused into the dough, with their skins intact, bittered and sweetened by burnt sugar…His fingers are ruined by too close and careless contact with the heat; the parts that touch each other when the hand is held out straight and flat, the skin there is stretched and speckled and shiny. Lily had never seen such hands. To her they seemed the most wonderful in all the world.”

And yes, it’s a story about food in part. The girl, Miranda suffers from the condition of Pica (eating things that aren’t food, such as chalk, soil, etc.)

But the most interesting aspect of the story is the way in which the house impacts on the family. We come to learn that it has done so over the course of generations of Silvers.

A little taster without spoiling hopefully:

“I am here, reading with you. I am reading this over your shoulder. I make your home home. I’m the Braille on your wallpaper that only your fingers can read – I tell you where you are. Don’t turn to look at me. I am only tangible when you don’t look at me.”

The Soucouyant, is said in folklore, to inhabit the flesh of an old woman who strips it off at night.

(Image from: veryoddthings.tumblr.com/post/65240426394/they-hide-in-the-dark-soucouyant-the)

Book Review: The Scarlet Thread

Thought I’d give this D.S.Murphy book a try as I wanted to read a little more in the Myth and Legend category of Amazon. (Technically my series that I’m releasing in March will be in this so I should be reading more from here). Although, it can be categorised as Urban Fantasy too so….

Anyways, I enjoyed bits of this. I’ll say some good things first. The heroine is painted well: Kaidance, a disillusioned teen girl, living in a kind of juvenile detention centre.

Quickly, we come to understand that she’s not a bad person, just that she’s got freaky powers that led her parents to put her in here unjustly. (Going to add here – I think there was a little too much backstory drawn out in the first two chapters to do with this, which halted the momentum of the story.)

I particularly liked the first meeting/interaction between Kaidance and Puriel.

“Before I could stop him he licked his thumb and brushed it against my cheek to wipe away the blood…That’s when I saw the stars. I thought I might have blacked out. My vision was filled with millions of them, whole galaxies, everything converging together into one blinding light, and then nothingness. Just empty, black void.”

I’ve been looking a lot at first meetings between the love interests in YA Fantasy books and I thought this was nicely handled. It also alluded to the vast, mind-boggling world Kaidance will soon find herself in.

Okay, other than that I found the next bit – when they get to a kind of house/training camp way too Percy Jackson-esque and the characters (stroppy, antagonistic girl), (hot, nymphomaniac guy)  a bit of a cop out. I’m definitely up for using the Greek Gods and their well-known characters as a foundation to build a character, but not to find anything unique and different in them is disappointing.

Lastly, I’d say it was a great pity that it was only part one of the story. The way it ends mid-battle scene is…unfulfilling.

Checking out D.S.Murphy’s stuff  – I’ve seen that he has a lot of useful info about self-publishing, promoting your book and other useful stuff. So definitely worth having a look at if you’re considering self-publishing.

Courtesy of: https://southridgeblog.com/2014/04/16/the-scarlet-thread-part-3-john-316/

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: Book Review

This has been on my list to read for a while. With the film coming out this year, I knew I had to get on it. There’s no doubt about my having to see the movie when it’s released. (Eva Green is one of my favourite actresses so I just have to! Incidentally, I’m loving getting my weekly Eva Green fix once more in the new series of Penny Dreadful.)

However – this is the book review! The first thing to strike you is of course, the stunningly atmospheric and creepy photographs throughout the book.

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(Case in point.)

The fact that the author’s woven a strange and fast-paced narrative between the photos makes it a unique read. It takes you back to being a kid. There really is something to exploring a story with immersive and darkly-fantastical visuals to match. It reminded me as well of the trend writers have nowadays to make character, setting and other boards to help plan their stories in pinterest, which I myself have started doing sometimes as a nice way of getting into the world-building process.

The dank and yet luscious Welsh countryside with its spooky, abandoned house was a great backdrop. And it was great fun to read about the peculiar children and step into their world, fittingly balanced by the revolting monsters that hunted them.

I think more than anything though, this is a great book to show the creative, powerful effect images can have. It makes you want to get imagining your own stories and create different worlds from the everyday things you see around you. If like me you’re a little late reading this one, I hope you enjoy this immersive, thrilling tale!

 

 

Discovered Tomes…

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Relief from a carved funerary lekythos at Athens: Hermes as psychopomp conducts the deceased, Myrrhine, to Hades, ca 430-420 BCE (National Archaeological Museum of Athens).
CC BY 2.5

Thought I’d put a little piece up about some of the great publications I’ve been reading this week. Some discovered through competition submissions and deadlines I’ve completed this week and others just little gems come upon along the way.

Psychopomps magazine had a competition deadline lask week and so I’ve been devouring lots of stories from there past volumes, as well as getting my hands on a hard copy edition that I’ve been wanting a while (the one in question has Lovecraft’s The Shunned House in its, so enjoying the building sense of dread that ensues each time I open the cover). It’s an unusual style and genre in the magazine.Their fee-free submissions window is open until the 15 March, so still time to polish up your weirdest and most wonderful pieces. (Incidentally, a Psychopomp was a guide to the souls of the dead in Ancient Greece so this will give you an idea of its tone).

The other one I’ve subscribed to to take a look at as there’s a fast approaching short story comp. deadline coming up is Mslexia. I was pleasantly surprised with what a lot this magazine has to offer to its fm ale readers: competition listings, interesting articles about self-publishing, guidance on how to foster a writings comunity and keep up motivation in your writing, submissions calls for short stories, poetry and columns where extracts of work are critiqued, as well as a wonderful collection of short stories and poetry all on this month’s theme of ‘monster’.

The last I’ve been reading this week was ‘The Coastal Zoo‘, a collection of short stories  from the Exeter Writers and the prize winning entries from the last 5 years of the Exeter Short Story Competition. Thoroughly enjoyable and when reading the prize winning pieces you are struck by the reoccuring themes. All the work is uniquely beautiful, but you do start to notice a pattern: loneliness, love and loss time and time again.

Well, off to read some more dreadfully frightening stories!

 

 

Book Review: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

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A new undertaking my two sisters and a friend have started for the year is a book club. I got to pick the first book to read over Christmas and for discussion at our first meeting. I chose Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde because you know, Dickens got it right, it isn’t Christmas without a bit of the supernatural 😉

Some of my favourite books are in the Gothic or Urban Gothic genre: Shelley’s Frankenstein or Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Grey and Stoker’s Dracula. Somehow I’d never picked up Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde over the years.

Verdict: It deserves to sit along side all these other excellent books within the genre. It’s truly a fascinating read, seeing the narrator, Utterson discover the confliction within his friend Dr Jekyll. All the way through there is a dark, uneasy tone and suggestion that we all suffer from contradictions in our character and nature.

Although we are not under the pressures that Jekyll was in the Victorian era, having the need to daily practise repression and austerity so much so that he creates Hyde, the book is still today a fitting testament to the need to be honest with one’s self.

When talking of Hyde, Jekyll says,

” that insurgent horror was knit to him closer than a wife, closer than an eye; lay caged in his flesh, where he heard it mutter and felt it struggle to be born; and at every hour of weakness, and in the confidence of slumber, prevailed against him, and deposed him out of life.”

So, well worth a read if you haven’t got around to it yet like me!

 

Hunting Lila: Book Review

hunting lila

Ok…remember I was branching out a bit – this one is a little bit more in my comfort zone though. It’s down as Action and Adventure in Amazon, but has the Supernatural slant – I guess we could label it as Supernatural Thriller or Suspense.

Let me say first – I read it very quickly. It’s a good light, well-paced read. Lila, the MC is a 17 year old, withdrawn young woman with two secrets. She can move things with her mind and…she’s been in love with her brother’s best friend most of her life. No seriously, that is how it comes across in the book – her being secretly in love is much more important than her secret power.

In short I found Lila a little weak willed, immature and in my opinion, not the kind of character most young women would want to root for. The other secondary characters of Jack, the brother, and Alex, the secret love are similar – too macho, a little flat and two-dimensional. The best bit is when the other characters with supernatural powers come in – Suki, Demos and the crew have a bit more personality going on, and personally, I would want to hang around with them rather than the main crew! But, there is a twist, which keeps things interesting, plenty of action and like I say, I kept reading to the end. For a holiday read or a light-hearted evening in – it works.

Calling all immortals!

I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while. A future post will definitely be saved for the topic of an in-depth analysis of the glorious vampire! Perhaps also for the werewolf and witch. But for now, I wanted to speak about my reasons for loving the supernatural genre. I’ve heard lots of people who are into the genre say its appeal is in the magic and the mysticism. Yes. Some say its about escapism. Yes also.

But take the vampire as an example. The one leaning against the mantelpiece.  Don’t you love it when they lean 😉 His thoughtful gaze is fixed on the flames in the grate, but the fire doesn’t warm his icy skin, or chase away the shadows that fill his eyes.  O.K, sorry…but in each vampire, and supernatural story, is the same theme, which speaks to us and draws us. Whether your vampire dresses in velvet and lace, or leather and denim, whether his pallor is permanent or sparkles in the sun. He is immortal.

In other words the paranormal/urban fantasy/science-fiction wraps up our own mortality in a cast of characters – be they vampires or witches, elves or wizards. They carry us through time and give us the potential for an infinite story.

Edward Cullen in Twilight AKA Sparkles

Edward Cullen in Twilight AKA Sparkles

Lestat in Interview with The Vampire AKA The Prince of Vamps

Lestat in Interview with The Vampire AKA The Prince of Vamps

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